Why We Partnered with Playground Global on our Series A financing

by Gary Agnew, CEO and Co-Founder, Ideon Technologies

Playground General Partners (left to right): Matt Hershenson, Bruce Leak, Jory Bell, Peter Barrett, Laurie Yoler

Finding a great partner is a daunting exercise for a start-up seeking institutional venture funding for the first time. At the end of 2021, there were nearly 3000 active venture firms in the United States alone, with about 300 more in the Canadian market. There’s no simple swiping left or right to facilitate this match-making effort, but rather a lot of research, cross-referencing, diligence, outreach, and timing. So, after months of targeting work, 200+ pitches, and the largest tech market correction in two decades, why did Ideon choose Playground Global as lead investor for its US$16 million Series A?

Every competitive early-stage VC we engaged boasted a well-honed thesis, a support offering to speed scale-up, and a broad network from which to draw strategic connections. While presenting a strong compelling business case of our own, it was equally important to gauge strategic and core values alignment to understand the depth of these commitments with each prospective partner.

We were introduced to Playground Global through a warm referral. I remember our very first conversation, which happened quite far into our fundraising process, wondering if the Playground team could move quickly enough if they were in fact interested in Ideon. They matched much of what we were looking for in a potential partner, including factors such as philosophical and thematic fit; clean tech sector alignment; stage and geographic focus; experience in B2B industrial markets and hardware solutions; deal dynamics; fund longevity; and a strong science-focused brand that could boost our own.

The ideal fit and function of a partner had eluded us during the fundraising process. The PG team showed up unlike any other VC we had encountered thus far. They moved with velocity and commitment, setting and meeting ambitious targets throughout the diligence process and going beyond our expectations in their team’s engagement with us. Not only had we found fellow deep-tech ‘nerds’ with an equally lofty vision of making a direct impact on our planet’s biggest problems, but we also discovered a team of open, honest, authentic people who were prepared to work with us through the highs and lows of scaling a science-based, hardware-enabled software start-up.

Our strategic discussions were challenging but interactive and well informed, and our access to the talented folks behind the scenes at PG was immediate and impressive. From deep hardware and sensor expertise to industrial design, key talent sourcing, and exposure to the critical minerals sector — PG brought highly complementary competence to the table. We felt we had joined a team that cared as much as we did about the team, customer, technical and financial outcomes of our business — as a founder, you cannot ask for more. This significantly contributed to our decision to align with PG as lead investor in the round.

The coaching and mentorship of the PG founder team — who have quite literally seen it all in the tech space — have been invaluable so far and we are mere weeks into our partnership. We have started our relationship with a commitment to transparency that brings a level of comfort to me — they see the challenges ahead and dive in to help but with a sense of humility and respect for the work we take on daily. They listen well, learn even better, and challenge us to expand our perspectives. Given what we have been able to accomplish together so far at the very beginning of our relationship, I can only imagine what can do together over the coming years.

ps. Ideon was very fortunate to have the deep support and engagement of its current investor, customer base, and the wider tech community as we navigated our Series A. Thank you to all who offered encouragement, recommendations, referrals, and references.

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Gary Agnew

Gary Agnew

Entrepreneur, visionary leader, and cosmic-ray muon pioneer. CEO and Co-founder, Ideon Technologies.